The Traveling Steve's

Happy New Year 2022!

Steve (DOS) and I rang in the New Year with an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center, which was still beautifully decorated from Christmas.

We have stayed at this Hyatt many times for overnight stay-cations, and the mega-hotel is directly next to and connected via skybridge to the Orlando Convention Center. It’s also a short walk to the Pointe Orlando dining, shopping, and entertainment area, which is directly adjacent to the hotel, hence our reason for staying there. We were also meeting our good friends Ben and Tom for dinner, who were also staying here as well.

We checked in to the hotel around 2pm on New Year’s Eve (Friday) and immediately noticed how busy it was with mostly Iowa football fans wearing their team yellow colors. The Citrus Bowl was held in Orlando the next day (Saturday – New Years Day) and featured Iowa vs Kentucky. The Hyatt must have offered a football package deal for Iowa fans as there were team banners and merchandise sales everywhere. I did buy DOS a Citrus Bowl cap as a souvenir, even though we weren’t going to the game, which Iowa ultimately lost the next day to Kentucky. (Glad we weren’t staying around New Year’s night to see the disappointed Iowa fans!)

After quickly settling in, we met up with our friends Ben and Tom, and took a long walk for exercise thru the Hyatt Hotel and past the numerous meeting rooms, all the way thru the mammoth convention center and back.

After walking around the convention center, we went for a brewski in the hotel lounge, which at 3:30pm was just starting to get busy with football fans watching other games on the big screen TV’s there.

We stayed for an hour or so and intentionally didn’t have any appetizers as we wanted to be hungry for dinner at The Capital Grille, where we had dinner reservations for 7:15pm.

We then headed back to our respective rooms for a couple hours relaxation and shower, before meeting in the lobby again at 7pm for the short walk next door to The Capital Grille. While we didn’t get a suite on this overnight stay, we did have a nice pool view corner room on the 23rd floor, which offered fantastic views of the pool and surrounding area including Pointe Orlando and the Convention Center directly below.

After a nap, showering, and changing clothes for dinner, we again Ben and Tom and walked over to The Capital Grille, where we were seated promptly at 7:10pm.

Like the hotel, the restaurant was full, and while we would have preferred a booth, our excellent waiter extended the table out for us, basically turning a table for four into a table for six! We always like a large table as we share multiple appetizers and have wine as well. Here’s an exterior photo of the hotel from our July visit to the Capital Grille Orlando.

In this case, I brought three nice vintage bottles of red wine from home we had purchased on a previous visit to Napa and Sonoma wine regions. We have loads of wine stored in our coolers at home, but never seem to drink the “good stuff”, so this was a time for celebration! I brought two bottles of Ledson 2009 vintage and one bottle of Ty Cayton 2010 vintage. Both were red blends and even the sommelier was impressed how good a condition the cork was in while decanting them for us, indicating they had been stored properly.

Prior to our visit, I had called ahead to verify wine rules, and Capital Grille allows personal wine with a $25 corkage fee per bottle, which is quite reasonable, especially considering it was properly decanted and served in nice glasses. We rarely bring our own wine into a restaurant unless it’s a special occasion, and only bring vintage wines that the restaurant does not serve. The servers at Capital Grille were quite accommodating with the wine, and actually seemed interested in the bottles that we had brought. I told the sommelier we like visiting and collecting wines from different regions throughout the world, and these were some we had gotten years ago in California.

(As a side note, DOS and I will be going back out to Napa/Sonoma in February when we are taking the California Zephyr from Chicago to Emeryville, CA, and then driving up to Napa/Sonoma for a 10 day visit there, so no doubt we will stock up on more vino then!)

We had a leisurely night of dining in the otherwise busy Capital Grille Restaurant, and had appetizers of AHI Tuna, and Pork Belly, while Ben and Tom had French-Onion soup.

We then moved onto Cesar salads which all four of us got prior to our main steak entrees.

DOS and I shared a huge bone-in Ribeye, and had it prepared with the Kona coffee crust, which we so loved at Tommy Bahama on our pre-Christmas trip to Kona and Maui.

We finished up our meal with a shared slice of chocolate cheesecake, which was more than enough for all of us!

The manager and another server who had previously waited on us, even came by the table to welcome us back and wish us a Happy New Year. It was really a wonderful night of dining out and ending the somewhat trying year in 2021 (i.e. COVID, hospitalizations etc) with our good friends Ben and Tom.

After dinner we walked across the street to one of the Rosen Hotel properties, and had a couple brewskis by the pool while we waited to ring in the New Year. We could hear the excitement building as there was a fancy party inside one of the ballrooms, and they did the countdown for everyone! We could hear and see some fireworks overhead as well at the hour of midnight.

And DOS and I wish all a healthy and happy new year in 2022, filled with much love, joy, and happiness!

Happy New Year everyone! Love Steve and DOS

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